Edited by Sari Väyrynen. Translated by Richard Foley. Photos by Arto Liiti.

In a typical autumn week, Sanna Väyrynen, researcher in and teacher of social work, does it all: work, hobbies and family life.


I start my day ay 5:30 with ashtanga yoga exercises. The one and a half hour session – the breathing, the motion, the energy – provides a calm that prepares me for the upcoming week. The work in store includes finalising a joint research article, my teenage children’s first day of school after summer and taking care of my friend’s horses.

When I get home after the morning’s visit to the horses, I begin working on an article – about half finished – on the ethics of child welfare. I check the material­ and write until my teenage kids, who are still on summer holiday, wake up. After breakfast they are off to do whatever teenagers do and I head for work, where I have a meeting to plan the autumn. This term I will have less teaching than usual, because I am focusing on my research, which deals with the prevention of domestic violence.

In the afternoon, I conduct a­ therapy session. I am studying to become a psychotherapist, because I would like to develop­ a better understanding of the­ human mind. More­over, my ­research focus – substance abuse and violence ­ – requires that I have a knowledge of how to treat trauma.

In the evening, the kids and I go to the shop and visit the horses; ­I meet friends at the stables and go running. I put in ten kilometres ­– it is just so magnificent to be outdoors.

A marathoner, Sanna is a familiar sight on the tracks around Rovaniemi.


After my yoga, I work on the article again, full of creative zeal. In fact, both yoga and writing often bring about the same experience of flow.

At noon, I am answering students’ emails. I try to calm their worries, but at the same time I start thinking of all the work I have to do: summer exams to correct, advising graduate students… But the article deserves to be well written, so I decide I’ll continue with it now.

In the afternoon, my head tells me that serious thinking for the day is over, and I go out for a brisk run. With the energy it gives me I manage to get dinner on the table and see that the kids get to their hobbies­ on time. By 5, I’m at the yoga room. After ten years, the hobby has grown to include teaching and it makes me happy to help others get closer to their bodies and minds.

Then it’s off to another enjoy­able location – the stables. My own horse died a couple of years ago, but this wonderful hobby is still very much a part of me. Around horses you can really be yourself.


The day has the buzz of the first day of school, as I roust the teenagers out of bed at 8. How nice it is to get back to the rhythm of every­day life.

This turns out not to be my day for writing, so I go to the office to handle some routine matters: I work up a course feedback form and take a look at students’ papers. I head home in good time to hear what my kids have to say about their school day, which has been full of seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Then it’s off again for a run with Pimu, our dog. After that I plan to continue writing. But there’s a surprise waiting for me when I get home: My 16-year-old daughter has been in an accident! After the first shock comes a great relief. The only damage is a few bruises and her banged-up moped.

When things settle down in the evening, I start working on the article again – almost by accident – and the next thing I know it’s Thursday.

Similar research interests bring Sanna and her long-term colleague Merja Laitinen together.


Yesterday went by in a flash: A colleague and I planned a joint publication, and I prepared my teaching, corrected exams, and replied to requests I had received to contribute articles and give lectures. What a pleasure it is to start the day working on the article in peace and quiet! The juices are flowing and I experience many exhilarating insights. My colleague phones and we discuss our joint article.

At one, I hop on my motor­cycle and head for a yoga course in Oulu, a nearby city. The kids are off as well: they’re going with their father to our cottage and to visit their grandmothers. The weather is perfect for riding and I reach Oulu just before the course begins. It’s fun to be a student for a change. After an invigorating workout, I drive to my brother’s. Now I have time to just hang out.

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